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What is collaborative family law?

This new concept originated in California. It is based on the idea that an increasing number of separating spouses want to settle their issues with the use of professionals in an inexpensive, amicable and respectful manner. Each spouse retains a family lawyer who is specially trained in collaborative family law. The spouses and their lawyers conduct a series of meetings to negotiate a resolution of the issues. The process is similar to mediation, however, in collaborative family law, if the negotiations are unsuccessful and litigation occurs, neither family lawyer can continue to represent the spouse in court and must withdraw from the case. This limitation is expected to encourage the spouses and their lawyers to use their best efforts in a productive, fair and focused manner to arrive at a resolution so that litigation is unnecessary. It is anticipated that spouses will be more committed and invested in the process to make the negotiations successful and arrive at a favourable outcome.